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Best of the Senior Bowl: Top 10 South Defense

Although there are some potential Day 2 picks on the Senior Bowl’s South defense, many of their defenders are mid-round picks with the athletic gifts that need to be refined for NFL play.

1. ILB – Alex Anzalone, Florida – Checking in at 6-3 and 240 pounds, Anzalone has the size to play inside linebacker in the NFL. His instincts and aggression shined during 11-on-11 scrimmages. While the defense wasn’t allowed to tackle, that didn’t stop Anzalone from being in on every play and arriving with an audible pop of the ball carriers pads. Smart, fast, aggressive and strong, Anzalone showed all of the traits a team will look for in an inside linebacker.

2. DT – Montravius Adams, Auburn – He’s an interesting case. He’s a very quick interior rusher and displayed plenty of pass-rushing moves, but the timing wasn’t always on point. At times he would spin too early and without going anywhere. Right now, he seems to be a prospect with all the tools needed, but refining them could turn him into a solid starter at the next level. He’s better going straight ahead than moving laterally down the line and has to be careful that his moves don’t get him pushed around by catching him off-balance.

3. OLB – Ryan Anderson, Alabama – Anderson weighed in at a shade over 6-2 and 258 pounds. He’s next in the line of jumbo linebackers from Alabama to go to the NFL. The South squad isn’t blessed with great blocking tight ends, but Anderson has had good success holding the edge against tackles as well. He’s held his own against proficient pass catchers like O.J. Howard, also of Alabama, and Ole Miss’ Evan Engram, while being stout against the run. 

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4. DE – Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova – Solid and imposing. Those are the two best descriptors of a guy that could turn into one tough assignment with the right coaching. He’s almost 6-foot-7 and a pretty chiseled 280 but has an incredible 84½-inch wingspan. He has some of the longest arms and has the biggest wingspan of anyone at the Senior Bowl. When he uses those levers to his advantage he can dominate the best that was in front of him, but he also has to be careful to keep his pads down so offensive linemen don’t get under them and drive him back.

5. CB – Tre'Davious White, LSU – At 5-11 and 191 pounds, White has good size and strength for the corner position. He’s one of the few defensive backs that appeared comfortable in press at the line of scrimmage as well as off man where he had to make breaks. He’s a physical and physically gifted player that fits in any type of scheme. 

6. CB – Marquez White, Florida State – At 5-11¾ and 184 pounds, White came in a little taller and a little leaner than Tre’Davious White of LSU. It showed in his game. Not as physical at the line of scrimmage in press, White was excellent in turn-and-run coverage letting his speed and agility blanket a receiver without having to be overly physical with him. 

7. DT – Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA – For 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, it doesn’t seem like he should be as quick as he is. He can be super quick off the snap and has a good swim move that he puts to use in his pass-rushing drills. The drawback is that he can be too quick, lunges and loses his leverage and balance.

8. DE – Jordan Willis, Kansas State – At almost 6-4 and 255 pounds, he’s almost a ’tweener in size between linebacker and rush end and his performance echoed that. He has great quickness off the snap and can get to the edge. He also owns a good spin move. However, he has a tendency to get too wide at time, making it too easy for the blocker to push him wide and behind the pocket.

9. DT – Tanzel Smart, Tulane – For those looking for an interior pass-rushing presence in the middle rounds, Smart could fill the bill. He’s under 300 pounds (weighed in at 296) and has a motor that runs in high gear. Although he has good hands, he will need some technique refinement to find consistency with his pass-rushing moves at the NFL level.

10. DE – Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M – A little bigger than Willis, Hall (6-5½, 265) has some of the same characteristics – a quick pass rusher with a good spin move. He got to the edge for a sack on Day 2, but he can be moved back off the ball too easily.


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